A growing national concern for adolescent health is the use of e-cigarettes, often referred to as vaping or JUULing (for a popular brand name). In just a few short years, there has been a dramatic increase in teen use of these devices, and New Trier is no exception. The latest data from the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, given to all New Trier students every other year, shows an alarming jump in students who reported vaping at least once within 30 days of taking the survey: from 19 percent in 2016 to 42 percent in 2018.
Student are often unaware of or underestimate the health risks associated with these devices, which deliver nicotine, flavoring, and other additives by heating a liquid to create a vapor which is then inhaled. Teens are attracted to the many flavors available (from cotton candy to cucumber) and the ease with which they can hide the devices. E-cigarettes frequently contain nicotine at higher doses than what is found in traditional cigarettes. For example, a recent study found that one pod of JUUL has the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. Nicotine is highly addictive and negatively effects brain development in adolescents. E-cigarettes can also be used to deliver THC, the psychoactive chemical contained in marijuana, which presents the same dangers of addiction and negative impacts on brain development as traditional marijuana use. In addition, the liquids used in e-cigarettes may contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals mixed with potentially toxic metal nanoparticles, such as nickel, chromium, and cadmium, from the heating element.
New Trier has incorporated information about the dangers of e-cigarettes into our health curriculum and school wellness campaigns. Some examples of those lessons are on this page. We also know that consistent consequences for use of these devices can act as a healthy deterrent for students. Starting in the 2018-2019 school year, in addition to a school consequence, any student found in possession of an e-cigarette device will be referred to our on-site police officer (school resource officer) for a possible local citation, which may result in a fine and/or a hearing at Village Hall or Cook County Circuit Court. It is a violation of Illinois state law and village ordinances in Winnetka and Northfield for students under the age of 18 to be in possession of these devices. In addition, it is against school policy for any student of any age to have e-cigarettes on campus.
This web page includes reports and resources for parents, students, and staff regarding the use of electronic cigarettes. While New Trier has stepped up its efforts to both prevent and stop the use of e-cigarettes by students, any effective campaign must be a partnership between parents, the community, and the school. We all must work together to spread the word about the dangers of these devices, which, like cigarettes, risk developing a lifelong addiction for the young people who use them.